Summary of the Law (said at every Sunday Mass)

Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Five Quick Takes


A new liturgical year is upon us, beginning in just under a week: November 29 is the First Sunday of Advent. I always get excited about Advent, ever since I was a little kid. And 2016 is set to be an important year for the Ordinariate: we're getting the final revision of our missal this coming Sunday, and, on Candlemas, our first-ever bishop is to be consecrated! Monsignor Steenson, who has guided us thus far, will be retiring from headship, and Monsignor Steven Lopes will be ordained our bishop (and our mother church down in Houston, Our Lady of Walsingham, will accordingly become a cathedral) -- I think he will be the first, not only for the American Ordinariate, but in the whole quasi-rite.

I always get excited about churchly events, but this is specially encouraging to me. The notion of an Anglican church reunified to its Catholic root, under the mantle of Peter, is very precious to me; much of my own conversion to Catholicism came through Anglican sources, particularly C. S. Lewis and Dorothy Sayers and the pre-Catholic works of G. K. Chesterton, and I've continued to be nourished by Anglican sources since I swam the Tiber myself, above all Charles Williams and John Donne. For a while, especially at the beginning, a lot of Anglican and Episcopalian Christians were pessimistic, negative, or even hostile with respect to the idea of the Ordinariates, and it was easy to be discouraged by our smallness and (to be blunt) poverty. Seeing the progress we've made is really wonderful, and receiving the fullness of Holy Orders within our community is a lovely milestone.

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The continued popularity of Donald Trump (on any level) remains baffling and is gradually becoming kind of scary. On the plus side, if it winds up being him versus ... pretty much any of the Democratic candidates, I won't have to wrestle with my Catholic conscience versus my anarchist one in deciding whether or not to vote at all -- the USCCB states that Catholics normally have the obligation to vote (as an expression of pursuing the common good), though allowing that when all the likely candidates advocate intrinsic evils, not voting can be a valid if unusual recourse; while, as an anarchist, I'd strongly prefer not to participate in a political system I categorically reject. The ongoing cause for Dorothy Day's canonization encourages me that my anarchism, and consequent aversion to voting, is licit within the bounds of the Catholic faith, but I need to give it more thought, and anyway it's nicer not to have to raise the question. Then again, that'll be true almost regardless of who gets the nominations on either side, and if the Republican nominee isn't Trump then there won't be a self-centered, Islamophobic, misogynistic ass who wants to institute a gross violation of the rights to religious liberty and privacy in law. As far as I know.

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2013 was the nightmare year, and 2014 was the year of feeling like a fucking superhero because I survived 2013; 2015 seems to have been the year of "Eh, close enough." It doesn't even seem like it's just me: stores put out holiday stuff way too early, as tradition demands, and there was a token nod to the war on the war on on the war on Christmas in the asinine Starbucks red cups snafu; but the militant cheeriness and obnoxious commercialization of everything that can't run away fast enough seem to have been extremely muted. I've yet to see any place drenched in Yulekakke, however capitalist. It's like we're finally getting some perspective or something -- fingers crossed.

It's also been a year, not of disillusionment or exhaustion exactly, but of tiredness, spiritually. Shusaku Endo's Silence, Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory, and Flannery O'Connor's The Violent Bear It Away have been my special literary companions this year; their mysterious insight into the operations of Grace, in the most distressing and unpredictable disguises, has been comforting and strengthening to me in a strange season. I still don't know what to do with myself, as regards my relationship with God (ugh, what an obnoxious phrase, but it does the job). But it's a consolation to see people explore the ways He can work in circumstances, and with people, who seem so unpromising at first, and second, and fifth glance.

And there is a comforting simplicity in the precepts of the Church, too. Not that I follow them well, except for attending Mass on Sundays and holy days and (usually) going to Confession; that whole "Ten Commandments" business I'm kinda sketchy on, especially number six.* But having that touchstone -- though it's certainly not a substitute for devoted love -- is a nice reminder of the way back.

*Or number seven, in knockoff churches.

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I'd be specially appreciative of your prayers for my third nephew, Joseph, and his family. He's two, and has had a tough life already, and been a darling little Rooseveltine trooper: he was seven weeks early and has Down Syndrome (which gives him the most adorable smile on earth!) and Hirschsprung Disease, the latter of which I don't really understand except that it gives him a lot of GI tract problems. He had to go in for an ostomy on Monday, which I think is his third or fourth? Anyway, he's tired of being in the hospital, he's uncomfortable, his mother's tired, his father's tired -- you get the idea. So the sooner he gets better, the happier we'll all be.

Seriously, look at that face!

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I can't think of a fifth thing, so here is an adorable video of a fawn that got lost, got inside this dude's house, and doesn't know what tiled floors are.

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